Cracking the code on the road
Missouri has struggled away from home. Plain and simple. Four of the Tigers’ five conference losses have come outside of Mizzou Arena, and they have shot 32% or worse from behind the arc in every SEC road game besides Ole Miss.
“Ultimately, home court advantage is home court advantage,” Dennis Gates said to the media on Monday afternoon. “It has been well-documented and stood the test of time. The elite teams find a way to win on the road.”
In their defense, winning on the road in college basketball is incredibly difficult, especially in conference play. Less than 20% of teams in the entire country have a winning record on the road, meaning only the elite of the elite find consistent success away from home.
“We’re in the infant phases of building a program, we’re not at that phase yet,” Gates said. “Those (winning on the road) are things you learn along the way.”
Still, in order to emerge as a true threat in March, the Tigers need to figure out their road woes. They have chances against Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia and LSU to right the ship.
“The season is coming to a close very fast, so we’re just trying to enjoy the process and win as many games as possible,” DeAndre Gholston said.
Where Aidan Shaw stands
With the emergence of Mohamed Diarra and Isiaih Mosley and extended minutes for Kaleb Brown and Mabor Majak, freshman Aidan Shaw did not play against Mississippi State and played less than ten minutes in the wins over Iowa State and LSU. After being a regular member of the rotation early in the season, it appears that Gates has opted for veterans instead of the young freshman.
“This is not a secret: Aidan is going to be a great basketball player,” Gates said. “He’s a good player right now, so he has to be on the path of development.”
The highly-touted recruit has shown flashes of his great athleticism and aggressiveness, but he still has a long ways to go in his development. The freshman needs to gain weight, develop his perimeter shot and improve his reaction time in-game. All of those are typical needed improvements for a freshman in college basketball.
“I don’t ever want to speed weight gaining up for guys; naturally it will happen,” Gates said. “The big thing is rebounding. Right now, he’s getting one rebound every six and a half minutes, and that’s not acceptable for him.”
Previewing the Gamecocks
South Carolina enters this game at 1-9 in the SEC, good for last place in the conference. An upset win over Kentucky in Lexington highlights an otherwise lackluster season, but Lamont Paris knew that this was going to be a long rebuild process when he arrived from Chattanooga.
“Lamont Paris does a great job, there’s no doubt about it,” Gates said. “In this conference you can’t look at records, because this is not a round-robin season.”
The Gamecocks rebound the ball well offensively, corralling 33.3% of their misses. That is about the only statistic that they excel at, however, and they rank 243rd in KenPom and 276th in the NET rankings. Still, as the grind of conference play gets underway in February, every game becomes a challenge.
“Bodies are starting to get a lot more sore, there’s little knick-knack injuries,” Gholston said of this time of year. “You just gotta find a way to stay focused with each other and keep each other happy.
The game against the Gamecocks tips on Tuesday at 8 p.m. CST. If not at the arena, you can watch the game on SEC Network.